John Burroughs Papers

Biographical / Historical Note

John Burroughs was born on April 3, 1837 on his family's farm in Roxbury, New York. As a child he spent much of his time reading, writing, and working on the farm. He attended the Hedding Literary Institute and the Cooperstown Seminary before leaving...

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John Burroughs was born on April 3, 1837 on his family's farm in Roxbury, New York. As a child he spent much of his time reading, writing, and working on the farm. He attended the Hedding Literary Institute and the Cooperstown Seminary before leaving home to become a teacher. Burroughs began keeping journals in 1854 when he was seventeen. His first published essay was "Fragments from the Table of an Intellectual Epicure" in 1860 and his first significant published piece was "Expression" in the Atlantic Monthly that same year.

Burroughs married Ursula North in 1857. Soon after, the couple moved to Washington, D.C. where Burroughs worked for the U.S. Treasury. In 1871 he took a position as a bank examiner in New York and built his home Riverby on a vineyard in West Park. In 1881 he constructed his Bark Study just off the main house, a retreat where he added to his growing body of essays and other work. By 1885 he gave up his bank position to write and enjoy his environment. Later, Burroughs would divide his time between Slabsides, his summer retreat at West Park and Woodchuck Lodge in Roxbury. Burroughs essays ranged from studies of birds and nature to religion and literature and his work was enjoyed by scholars and laypeople alike. Publishing widely, Burroughs became well known and received numerous awards and honorary degrees. He and his wife had one adopted son, Julius.

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Scope and Content Note

The papers are comprised of four series. The Education Related Material series, 1854- 1901 (0.2 cubic ft.) contains a teaching certificate, two school catalogs, a letter of recommendation, and a set of thank you letters. The letters were sent from...

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The papers are comprised of four series. The Education Related Material series, 1854- 1901 (0.2 cubic ft.) contains a teaching certificate, two school catalogs, a letter of recommendation, and a set of thank you letters. The letters were sent from a class of children for whom Burroughs had led a nature walk. The Writings series, 1856-1907 and undated (0.2 cubic ft.) holds several handwritten manuscripts, a poem, an account book, and three periodicals that have articles written by Burroughs. There is also a unique wildflower album with a bark cover created by Burroughs in 1898. Burroughs creativity is also documented in two volumes of artwork, design layout, proofs and type repros for the limited edition book, In Nature's Laboratory, which records the camping trip in 1916 of Burroughs, Edison, and Firestone. The Photographs series, 1882-1915 and undated (2.0 cubic ft.) includes a two volume Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition, 1899; an album of cartes de visite portraits of friends and family; a set of thirty-seven glass plate negatives (images taken by Burroughs son, Julius); and a subseries of snapshots and photographs of Burroughs with friends, family, visitors and his homes and travels. A Miscellaneous series, 1896-1909 (0.2 cubic ft.) is comprised of a handprint of John Burroughs and several pages from a scrapbook. Researchers should note that handwritten notes describing some of the material were made by the donor, Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley, granddaughter of John Burroughs.

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Collection Details

Object ID: 93.205.0
Creator: Burroughs, John, 1837-1921 
Inclusive Dates: 1854-1915
Size: 3.6 cubic ft.
Language: English

Collection Access & Use

Item Location: Benson Ford Research Center

Access Restrictions: The papers are open for research.

Credit: From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Digitized Artifacts From This Collection

In many cases, not all artifacts have been digitized.
Contact us for more information about this collection.

Anthology of Writings by John Burroughs Students in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, 1857, "The Snowdrops"

  Details

Anthology of Writings by John Burroughs Students in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, 1857, "The Snowdrops"

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Anthology

Date Made

04 March 1857

Summary

Before John Burroughs (1837-1921) became an internationally known naturalist and writer he earned a living as a teacher. Burroughs began teaching in 1854 at a small district school in New York not far from where he grew up. In late 1856 Burroughs moved to Buffalo Grove, Illinois. He stayed until the spring of 1857. This book of essays and poetry was prepared for him by his students.

Object ID

93.205.149

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Anthology of Writings by John Burroughs Students in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, 1857, "The Snowdrops"

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

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Brothers John Burroughs and Eden Burroughs on the Porch at Woodchuck Lodge, circa 1915

  Details

Brothers John Burroughs and Eden Burroughs on the Porch at Woodchuck Lodge, circa 1915

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

circa 1915

Summary

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was an internationally known naturalist and writer whose nature essays were well received in both literary and scientific circles. Burroughs was born on a farm near Roxbury, New York in the Catskills Mountains. He was the seventh of ten children. Here, the elderly John and his younger brother Eden relax at Woodchuck Lodge, a summer retreat near the Burroughs' birthplace.

Object ID

2010.0.35.3

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Brothers John Burroughs and Eden Burroughs on the Porch at Woodchuck Lodge, circa 1915

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C. S. Pietro Creating a Clay Model of John Burroughs at Woodchuck Lodge, 1915

  Details

C. S. Pietro Creating a Clay Model of John Burroughs at Woodchuck Lodge, 1915

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Several wealthy individuals, including Henry Ford, commissioned C. S. Pietro to create statues of John Burroughs. In the mid-1910s, the sculptor traveled to Burroughs' home in the Catskills and fashioned clay models of the well-known naturalist and writer. Later, Pietro would create marble and bronze statues from these clay models for his patrons.

Object ID

2010.0.35.9

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

C. S. Pietro Creating a Clay Model of John Burroughs at Woodchuck Lodge, 1915

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

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  Details

Clara Barrus' Cottage at Riverby, "The Nest," circa 1915

  Details

Clara Barrus' Cottage at Riverby, "The Nest," circa 1915

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

1915

Object ID

2010.0.35.7

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Clara Barrus' Cottage at Riverby, "The Nest," circa 1915

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

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  Details

Clay Sculpture Model of John Burroughs, 1915

  Details

Clay Sculpture Model of John Burroughs, 1915

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Several wealthy individuals, including Henry Ford, commissioned C. S. Pietro to create statues of John Burroughs. In the mid-1910s, the sculptor traveled to Burroughs' home in the Catskills and fashioned clay models of the well-known naturalist and writer. Later, Pietro would create marble and bronze statues from these clay models for his patrons.

Object ID

2010.0.35.11

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Clay Sculpture Model of John Burroughs, 1915

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Country Calendar Magazine for May 1905, with Article by John Burroughs, "In May"

  Details

Country Calendar Magazine for May 1905, with Article by John Burroughs, "In May"

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Magazine (Periodical)

Date Made

May 1905

Summary

John Burroughs was an internationally known naturalist and writer whose nature essays were well received in both literary and scientific circles. From his home in the Catskills of upstate New York, Burroughs wrote and published countless works throughout his career. His numerous magazine articles enticed many Americans to explore the great outdoors and build an appreciation for nature.

Object ID

93.205.116

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Country Calendar Magazine for May 1905, with Article by John Burroughs, "In May"

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Country Calendar Magazine for October 1905, with Article by John Burroughs, "October Days"

  Details

Country Calendar Magazine for October 1905, with Article by John Burroughs, "October Days"

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Magazine (Periodical)

Date Made

October 1905

Summary

John Burroughs was an internationally known naturalist and writer whose nature essays were well received in both literary and scientific circles. From his home in the Catskills of upstate New York, Burroughs wrote and published countless works throughout his career. His numerous magazine articles enticed many Americans to explore the great outdoors and build an appreciation for nature.

Object ID

93.205.117

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Country Calendar Magazine for October 1905, with Article by John Burroughs, "October Days"

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Country Life in America Magazine for May, 1906, with Article by John Burroughs, "Love and War Among the Bluebirds"

  Details

Country Life in America Magazine for May, 1906, with Article by John Burroughs, "Love and War Among the Bluebirds"

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Magazine (Periodical)

Date Made

May 1906

Summary

John Burroughs was an internationally known naturalist and writer whose nature essays were well received in both literary and scientific circles. From his home in the Catskills of upstate New York, Burroughs wrote and published countless works throughout his career. His numerous magazine articles enticed many Americans to explore the great outdoors and build an appreciation for nature.

Object ID

93.205.118

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Country Life in America Magazine for May, 1906, with Article by John Burroughs, "Love and War Among the Bluebirds"

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Edith Trowbridge (Friend of Julian Burroughs) at the Piano, 1900

  Details

Edith Trowbridge (Friend of Julian Burroughs) at the Piano, 1900

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Negative (Photograph)

Date Made

1900

Object ID

93.205.75

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Edith Trowbridge (Friend of Julian Burroughs) at the Piano, 1900

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details